May 2014

Human Universals and Cultural Evolution on Interstellar Voyages

May 30, 2014

Cameron Smith last joined us just over a year ago with an essay on human interstellar migration in the context of biological evolution. Here he turns to issues of culture and change over time. An anthropologist and prehistorian at Portland State University in Oregon, Dr. Smith brings insights he has gained in the study of […]

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Sunset at Titan: The Problem of Haze

May 29, 2014

Given the high quality imagery returned by Cassini on an almost routine basis, it’s interesting to remember how little we knew about Saturn’s moon Titan back in November of 1980, when Voyager 1 made its closest approach to the planet. Think of the options the Voyager 1 team had in front of it. The craft […]

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Proposed Europa/Io Sample Return Mission

May 28, 2014

I love a long journey by car or rail, but not by airplane. Back in my flight instructing days, I used to love to take a Cessna 182 on a long jaunt, but these days the flying I do means sitting in the cheap seats in the back of a gigantic jet and suffering the […]

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New Horizons: The KBO Hunt Continues

May 27, 2014

Of the many interesting questions Nick Nielsen raised in last Friday’s post, the one that may be most familiar to the interstellar community is the question of potential breakthroughs. What happens if an unexpected discovery in propulsion makes all the intervening stages — building up a Solar System-wide infrastructure step by step — unnecessary? If […]

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How We Get There Matters

May 23, 2014

Nick Nielsen’s new essay follows up his speculations on interstellar infrastructure with a look at the kind of starships we might one day build. The consequences are profound. What if we master interstellar technologies without needing the Solar System-wide infrastructure many of us assume will precede them? A civilization’s interstellar ‘footprint’ would be radically altered […]

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Thoughts on a Spacecraft’s Rebirth

May 22, 2014

According to a recent NASA news release, the agency has never before signed the kind of agreement it has made with Skycorp, Inc., a Los Gatos, CA-based firm that will now attempt contact with the International Sun-Earth Explorer-3 (ISEE-3) spacecraft. You’ll recall that this is the vehicle that scientists and space activists alike have been […]

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Exomoons: A New Technique for Detection

May 21, 2014

A friend asked me the other day whether my interest in exomoons — moons around exoplanets — wasn’t just a fascination with the technology of planet hunting. After all, we’ve finally gotten to the point where we can detect and confirm planets around other stars. An exomoon represents the next step at pushing our methods, […]

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A New Marker for Planet Formation

May 20, 2014

Given how many planet-hosting stars we’re finding, any markers that can tell us which are most likely to have terrestrial worlds would be welcome. New work out of Vanderbilt University is now providing us with an interesting possibility. Working with the university’s Keivan Stassun, graduate student Trey Mack has developed a model that studies the […]

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GU Piscium b: Tuning Up our Imaging

May 19, 2014

How do you go about characterizing a directly imaged planet around another star? In the absence of a transit, one way is to apply theoretical models of planetary formation and evolution to the light spectrum you’re working with. When a team of researchers led by Marie-Ève Naud (a graduate student at the Université de Montréal) […]

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Time Out

May 12, 2014

Over the past months, enough projects have piled up in need of attention that I finally have to decide to get serious about them. That means a short break here. No Centauri Dreams posts this week, therefore, with publication resuming next week on Monday or Tuesday. While I’m putting various things — some space-related, some […]

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